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A new constituent member of the Russian Federation, the enlarged Irkutsk
A new constituent member of the Russian Federation, the enlarged Irkutsk Region, came into existence on January 1, following the merger of two Siberian regions.

Urged by the necessity to solve local social and economic tasks and improve living standards in East Siberia, legislators in the energy-rich Irkutsk Region and the largely agrarian Ust-Ordyn Buryat Autonomous Area submitted a merger proposal to the Russian president in October 2005.

The idea was approved by the majority of votes at a referendum in April 2006.

The enlarged Irkutsk Region will form its government within a year, starting from January 1, 2008. Local parliamentary elections are expected to be held October 12, 2008, and the Russian president will nominate a new governor within 35 days after the elections.

Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the merger as part of the Kremlin's ongoing campaign to simplify the country's administrative-territorial divisions, and to further tighten federal control over budget spending and efficient governance in the regions.


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